TVD Live Shots: Rammstein at Milton Keynes Stadium, 7/6

I’ve seen thousands of shows in my life, and I get asked quite often what’s the best show I’ve ever seen. After last week’s stadium show in Milton Keynes, I will answer that question with the same way for the rest of my life: Rammstein. Hands down this is the biggest, baddest, coolest gig I’ve ever seen.

I’m not even sure how to describe it, but I’ll give it a shot. The music falls somewhere between metal, industrial, techno, and rock, but that’s just the beginning. Oh, and they sing in German, which means that 90% of the audience here in the UK have no idea what they are saying, but that doesn’t matter. This show is bigger than the music, it’s bigger than the constant stream of controversy that follows the band and the top the charts, it’s bigger than anything I’ve ever seen before; it’s a culture of its own.

I saw Rammstein back in the states on the Family Values tour in 1998 with Korn, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube, and Orgy. I thought they were great back then, but twenty years later these guys are on a new level. I remember meeting frontman Till Lindemann backstage at that tour, and although he didn’t speak English and I don’t speak German, we hung out for a bit along with the others in the band. I remember him having a very good sense of humor about the backstage experience, even when the singer from Orgy brought out the porn video of his wife.

They have surpassed every one of their peers across various genres, and they continue to evolve and push boundaries. The fact that they sell out stadiums of 40,000 plus is a testament to how big these shows are. They don’t really have a choice, with the level of production and pyrotechnics, stadiums are the only venues big enough to fit the show. It’s absolutely mind-boggling to think of what goes into the planning and production, so much so that frontman Till Lindemann is a licensed pyrotechnician. And why not be an expert since he spends so much time around huge open flames and many times himself engulfed? And did I mention that he’s also an actor, poet, and a songwriter? Yeah, this guy does it all.

But back to the show. It was big, bold, and grandiose. While the music was great, the antics were what put it over the top. From a giant foam penis gun to a river raft ride over the crowd to the insane energy the band delivers on the enormous stage, it’s like a post-war industrial circus from hell. And the pyrotechnics were the craziest fucking things I’ve ever seen. During several points of the evening, it felt as if the entire stadium was exploding in enormous orange flames. You could literally feel the heat smack you in the face from every seat in the venue. On top of that, there was one moment when fire literally shot from the stage across the top of the entire sold out audience which lit another fire which shot another fireball which started a chain reaction going around the stadium leading back to the main stage. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a concert, hands down.

The setlist that night was sort of all over the place, but in a good way. Twenty-one songs celebrating the band’s entire catalog while rightfully pulling heavily from the latest untitled seventh record. It was as if it was a Rammstein festival with a variety of genres demonstrated within the dark carnival atmosphere. “Du Hast,” “Pussy,” and “Puppe” (which featured an oversized baby carriage set ablaze) were the standouts for me, but then again this thing is bigger than just the music. It’s a fucking spectacle to behold, and I can’t wait to go see them again next year as they bring the chaos and fire to Coventry.

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